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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018
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Analysis: Clare's late heroics and how they can become genuine All-Ireland contenders

The42 columnist Tommy Dunne breaks down the Banner’s thrilling Munster hurling victory over Tipperary yesterday.

YESTERDAY’S GAME WAS always going to be a difficult one from a Tipperary point of view.

They were in the last chance saloon, although in fairness there was a lot of pressure on both teams coming into the game. Both Tipperary and Clare badly needed a win in Semple Stadium, but ultimately it was the Banner who prevailed.

Ian Galvin and Conor Cleary celebrate Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Tipperary have been struggling to find their rhythm and form this season, while Clare had the benefit of a weekend off. They also had a good win against Waterford already under their belt in the championship, which was important for confidence.

With so much at stake for both squads, this tie was never going to be a free-flowing classic, but we were treated to an afternoon of high-drama.

You could feel the tension with every puck of the ball in Thurles. Let’s take a closer look at the big factors that decided the outcome:

1. Contrast in Tipperary and Clare playing styles

Both these counties naturally have different styles of play. Tipperary tend to employ a very direct style under Michael Ryan.

They like to move the ball into the danger area in front of goal as early as possible, although there are times they shorten it up and take scores from distance.

Clare, on the other hand, usually with a more measured style. They use a short build-up play to set-up scoring chances for fellas like Colm Galvin and Tony Kelly out the field.

It’s interesting to view the game in the context of the contrasting game-plans.

Clare 

6 mins 40 seconds —We can see the Clare gameplan in action early on. They build from corner-back, between the full-back line and the 45 they knit three passes together.

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Tony Kelly, who likes to drop deep from his centre-forward role and is usually the outlet ball in midfield, receives the last of these passes and launches a diagonal ball into John Conlon.

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The Clonlara man is in plenty of space when he gathers uncontested and takes a shot at the posts. The referee calls for Hawk-Eye which judges the shot to be wide, but I think it should have been given.

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16:34 — Pat O’Connor wins a free and goes short to Colm Galvin in midfield. He pops a pass to Jamie Shanahan, who shoots from centre-field. It goes wide for Clare’s fourth in-a-row.

24:55 — A quick puck-out goes to O’Connor, who picks out Kelly in the midfield. The former Hurler of the Year carries it into a shooting position but it lands wide.

With John Conlon and Shane O’Donnell in the full-forward line, it takes them a while before they start utilising them effectively.

30:05 - Shanahan clears long into the full-forward line, where Peter Duggan wins it in the air.

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He’s blocked down by Sean O’Brien, but it’s an example of how a direct ball into the attack can cause problems.

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34:19 — O’Donnell wins a long delivery in front of O’Brien and fires it out to Kelly who slots it over.

Tipperary

Tipperary were the better side in the first-half and were more efficient in terms of chances created and converted. They were defensively more sound than in the last couple of games and had the Clare backs in trouble early on.

1:53 — Brian Hogan gets great distance on a puck-out and John McGrath touches it onto the deck floor before he’s fouled for a straightforward free.

5:55 — Padraig Maher bombs the sliotar into the full-forward line where Forde wins the break and points.

11:12 - Hogan drops a puck-out on Bonner Maher who was influential early on. He touches the ball down to Billy McCarthy. The Thurles Sarsfields man bursts through a tackle and buries it into the net.

2. Tipperary’s concession of frees and Duggan’s accuracy

Whether it was a lack of Tipperary discipline or great work from Clare to force the frees, a huge theme throughout the game was the number of placed balls the Banner were able to convert.

Man-of-the-match Peter Duggan pointed 13 dead balls and a good portion of them came through a key period in the second-half when Clare really turned the screw.

Peter Duggan scores a late free Source: James Crombie/INPHO

46:08 — Clare put huge pressure on the Tipp backs and Padraig Maher is hooked as he attempts to clear. O’Donnell picks up the ball and is fouled by Maher. Duggan converts the free. Clare’s seventh pointed free.

47:09 — Tipp scramble to clear the ball after a dangerous situation near their own goalmouth, but Brendan Maher concedes a free on Podge Collins. Duggan applies the finish for Clare’s eighth pointed free.

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48:31 — Kennedy fouls Conlon and it’s the third free-in-a-row Tipp have conceded. Duggan slots over Clare’s ninth pointed free.

49:40 — A Tipperary puck-out is won by Duggan, who gets a great pass away under extreme pressure from two defenders.

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Seadna Morey drives forward inside the opposition half and he’s fouled.

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Duggan raises the white flag for Clare’s 10th pointed free. With the game in the melting pot, the Banner have scored four frees in less than four minutes.

55:43 — John McGrath scores a great point in midfield and then wins Donal Tuohy’s resultant puck-out. But McGrath overhits his pass inside and it bounces off wide.

57:25 — A Clare restart is won by Bonner Maher 35 yards from goal.

He has a team-mate in oceans of space behind him and Noel McGrath begging for a pass in front, but runs Maher towards goal.

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Three Clare defenders surround Maher and turn the ball over.

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From that Tipp scoring chance, Clare move the ball upfield and win another placed ball. Duggan nails Clare’s 11th pointed free.

Tipperary have won the last two Clare puck-outs but scored from neither and conceded a point themselves.

62:07 — Kennedy is pulled for overcarrying after great work from the Banner forwards. Duggan, whose striking from frees has been outstanding, slots over Clare’s 12th pointed free.

3. The game swings on one incident

54:03 — Hogan’s puck-out finds John McGrath who moves it into Cathal Barrett as the substitute times a run off his shoulder. It’s a beautiful move and Tipperary do everything right as Barrett tears down the middle of the Clare defence before feeding Jake Morris.

Morris should be hitting the net but he rattles a shot off the post. Morey picks up the loose ball and a golden Tipp scoring chance is quickly turned into a Clare counter-attack.

He sends the sliotar 50 yards into space under the new stand. The Premier defended reasonably well throughout, but this is an example of the poor defending that cost them over the last few games.

Kennedy is a few yards off Conlon and you cannot defend in the inter-county game like that. Conlon wins it out in front and Donagh Maher comes in to tackle him. Maher gets flattened and Conlon sprints away as two Tipp defenders are taken out of the game.

It’s a brilliant offload from Conlon to Collins who has open country in front of him to tear into. Collins carries it brilliantly, Brendan Maher tries to make a tackle as the Cratloe star pops it over to Ian Galvin.

Galvin’s finish is emphatic and in 18 seconds a Tipperary goal chance turns into a goal at the far end. Tipperary were distraught but there’s no way they should be conceding a goalscoring chance from the attacking position they were in.

In fairness to Clare, the execution was stunning. There were a couple of plays from the final few minutes that are worth mentioning.

70:29 — It’s a two-point game when Forde misses a scoreable free.

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He was unerring in front of the posts all day, but shortly after he fails to extend the lead to three, Conlon smashes over an outstanding effort from the sideline.

71:41 - Tipp are pulled for another free with O’Brien the guilty part on O’Donnell. Duggan levels the game up with Clare’s 13th pointed free. The Banner close it out with two terrific points from play through Collins and Duggan.

Patrick O’Connor and David McInerney with Jason Forde and Noel McGrath Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Conclusion

It was a game full of tension and drama. There was a marked improvement in Tipperary’s performance from their last few outings and they’ll feel this was a game they should have won.

Clare will take an awful lot out of the manner of their victory and with progression to the All-Ireland series already secured, they will play for a place in the Munster final next weekend.

Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s outfit do have serious room for improvement and if they’re to become genuine All-Ireland contenders they must become a lot more efficient in terms of how they use possession. Getting it into the danger zone more often and utilising key players will make them a serious threat to anyone left in the competition.

Clare have the tools at their disposal to have a major say in this championship. If they can learn lessons from Semple Stadium, they can get a lot better over the coming weeks and months.

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